Clapton Take point as boycott continues

PUBLISHED: 10:49 18 December 2016 | UPDATED: 15:29 18 December 2016

Latest news from the local football scene (pic Joe Meredith/JMP)

Latest news from the local football scene (pic Joe Meredith/JMP)

Joe Meredith/JMP

Clapton 1 Takeley 1

Clapton escaped with a point against fellow Essex Senior League highflyers Takeley in the last home game of 2016 at the Old Spotted Dog on Saturday.

The match ended in controversial circumstances, as the ball appeared to hit Clapton substitute Nathan Cook on the arm inside the box in the last minute, but penalty appeals were ignored and Takeley players surrounded the referee at full time to voice their dismay.

Off the pitch, the Clapton Ultras staged another boycott of the home fixture and decided to put the money not spent on a match ticket towards the Newham Recorder and Community Links christmas toy appeal, with initial estimates suggesting the total has reached £300.

Heading into the game, Tons knew that a win would see them swap positions with their opponents and climb into third place, after a great first half to the season.

However, they had seen a slump in form since supporters began their stand against the club’s chief executive Vince McBean, having now exited all cup competitions following a 5-2 home loss to Greenwich Borough in the London Senior Cup in midweek.

Takeley, on the other hand, were unbeaten in their last seven games, with the last loss being at the hands of Clapton when Stefan Nielsen scored the only goal of the game.

With the winter cold really biting the few souls who had entered the ground, both teams failed to warm the cockles as neither could get going in the opening exchanges.

Tons showed a spark of their quality on 25 minutes, almost producing a brilliant team goal, as livewire Johnny Ashman’s mazy run left three Takeley defenders in his wake and he played a nice through ball to Ike Nzuruba on the right.

Nzuruba, replacing fan favourite Ajani Domingo Carrington in attack, hit a brilliant return cross to Ashman and his first-time volley produced a good save from the visiting keeper.

Moments later, Takeley had the first of their big penalty shouts as George Wappett charged into the box and Bradley Joseph, in his attempt to track back, seemed to push him over, but the referee’s whistle stayed silent.

Undeterred, Wappett got back up with the ball at his feet and his cross almost resulted in a goal as Clapton were forced to despairingly block his fellow attacker’s effort.

Takeley did take the lead just before the half-hour mark, though, when a long ball forward was flicked on to Cole, letting him through one on one to lob Richard Robins from the edge of the box.

As the second half began, the Ultras, unable to contain their urge to sing and watch their team in such a big game, congregated at the gate on the side of the ground while others had their heads over the back wall.

But Takeley almost wrapped up the game on 70 minutes when goalscorer Cole missed a free header from just five yards out.

The miss would prove to be costly for the visitors as eight minutes later Clapton’s Raphael Duyile grabbed an equaliser.

Another great cross from Ashman went across the goalkeeper and, after Dylan Ebengo miskicked the finish, Duyile atoned for his team-mate’s error and tapped home to set up an enthralling last 10 minutes.

But it was Takeley who looked most likely to score a winner and Clapton had a few nervy moments, none more so than in the last minute of stoppage time when a visiting forward looked to flick a bouncing ball past Cook in the box and it struck the Clapton substitute on the arm, with all the Takeley players appealing for the penalty.

But the referee waved play on and as the Takeley players surrounded the match officials after the final whistle, the Clapton team went over to the fans at the gate to illustrate their continued appreciation of their support.

Up next for Clapton, who have now dropped to fifth, is their final game of the year away at FC Romania on Wednesday.

Clapton: Robins, Vigo, Ashman, Awoderu, Duyile, Ebengo, Egbejale, Jospeh (Blackwood), Nzuruba (Cook), Reed, Rene (Nielsen). Unused subs: Adesina, Domingo-Carrington.

*London Bari saw their clash at Basildon United abandoned after 83 mimutes due to thick fog at the Stuart Bingham Stadium.

Chris Davis’ men travelled after seeing their five-match unbeaten run ended by leaders Barking in a 5-0 midweek loss and held out until the 43rd minute when Jamie Brown put the home side ahead.

Nathan Dewberry doubled the lead just past the hour with a free-kick, but match officials decided conditions were unplayable with seven minutes left.

Bari are set to play their final match of 2016 when Eton Manor visit the Old Spotted Dog on Tuesday.

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